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Friday, January 7, 2011

Bowie Knife and Pistol Fight, 1860

The following report, from the Janesville Daily Gazette of March 24, 1860, describes a brutal fight in Jefferson City, Missouri, which resulted in the deaths of both participants. Note that the article provides a complete blow-by-blow description of the fight, something that no newspaper would do today out of disdain for pandering to the morbid curiosity of readers. But dammit, we are curious!
Horrible Tragedy in Jefferson City
A correspondent of the Missouri Democrat writing from Jefferson City, states the following. Let us premise that Hughes and Dozier had quarreled about an appointment to an office in the territory.

At five o'clock yesterday afternoon, while walking along Main street, Hughes saw Dozier, and called him. They approached each other and spoke for a while, when a scuffle ensued, immediately opposite the City Hotel, during which Dozier drew a small pistol from his pocket and fired it, the ball just grazing Hughes' coat, doing no injury whatever. Through the interference of friends they were separated, though very much enraged at each other. They started in different directions, as was alleged, for the purpose of arming themselves, evidently determined that the matter should not rest there. At this time Hughes was altogether unarmed, and Dozier had nothing but a small pistol with him, which he discharged, as I have said. Hughes procured two revolvers and purchased a large bowie knife, and then started in pursuit of Dozier, inquiring for him along the street as he passed. Dozier procured a revolver also, and walked along Main street till he came to the Virginia Hotel, where he stood for a while and then started down the street and stopped at Wagner's beer saloon. Here he waited a short time, and at about six o'clock Hughes came along and said, "Dozier, G-d d--n you; you can kill me now if you want to!" at the same time drawing a revolver and firing at Dozier, the shot, however, taking no affect.

Dozier immediately returned the shot, and they both retreated into the saloon, Hughes going in first, pistol in hand, followed closely by Dozier. Two or three shots were exchanged here, when Hughes, who had walked backwards through the saloon, reached the rear window, and drew his bowie knife and inflicted a stab in the right breast of Dozier, plunging the instrument several inches into the unfortunate man. Hughes dropped in the saloon from the effects of a bullet which entered the vicinity of the heart. Dozier fired another shot which took effect a little below the other. Hughes expired in a few moments.

As he fell, he uttered the words, "Tell my wife and children I am killed--I am killed."

Dozier walked into the street, and was asked by a friend if he was hurt. He said, "not much," and proceeded toward the Virginia Hotel, walking arm arm with a friend. He soon felt the effects of the stab, and remarked, "I have killed him, and I believe he has killed me." As he said these words he fell, and was carried into Matthew's drug store, where he expired in less than five minutes. A pistol fell from his grasp as he dropped. In the excitement of the moment he was insensible to the fatal stab that had been inflicted upon him. He received a flesh wound, also, from a pistol bullet, but its character was trifling.

Fifteen minutes had not elapsed from the commencement of the second difficulty, before both participators were dead. Nine shots were exchanged, most of which took effect inside of the wall of the beer saloon in which Hughes breathed his last.

This is one of the most lamentable tragedies that has occurred here within the last twenty years. It has produced a feeling of horror and regret throughout this unusually peaceable city, unequaled in the memory of the oldest inhabitant. The most melancholy circumstance is that both of the unfortunates have left families almost destitute. Hughes was the father of five children, all of whom, together with his wife, are living. Dozier leaves a wife and three children to mourn the rash act of a single hour.

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